Redeems itself at the end

‘Mockingjay’ – Suzanne Collins

4-star-rating

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But she’s still not safe. A revolution is unfolding, and everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans – everyone except Katniss.

And yet she must play the most vital part in the final battle. Katniss must become their Mockingjay – the symbol of rebellion – no matter what the personal cost.

The final instalment to ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy, I found myself finally being able to complete this series without having seen all of the films! Interestingly, my response to the first half of the book (i.e, part one of the film), was the same as the film: quite a lot of talk and description that slowed the pace down considerably in comparison to the opening novel. However, the second part of ‘Mockingjay’ kept me guessing with its twists and turns; the ending had me physically gasping aloud as I could not see how the story would conclude.

There is a lot of focus on Katniss’s mental state, which the film certainly overlooked. Tormented by her role in the two Hunger Games, she still struggles dealing with the death she has caused and her now pivotal role in the rebellion again the Capitol. It was this that slowed the pace down but on reflection, was a key part to the story’s conclusion. For a seventeen-year-old girl, she definitely carries a lot of emotional baggage and her conflicting emotions towards Gale and Peeta have her searching inwardly in a bid to find peace with herself.

As I drew closer to the end of the novel, I initially felt the ending was becoming predictable and too simplistic for even a teenage audience. However, the final few chapters intensified the plot and Collins surprises readers with Katniss’s fragility and the Capitol’s downfall. Not wanting to reveal the ending, I could not believe how ‘The Hunger Games’ ended and applaud Collins for taking the bold step of not keeping characters alive just because of popularity/importance. I think this is what redeemed the story and, coupled with Katniss’s troubled state of mind, could not put down the book until I had reached its satisfying conclusion.

What was also refreshing about ‘Mockingjay’ was the fact it was not a similar plot to the first two books. Not having to read about another Hunger Games made the novel more enjoyable. But, Collins does continue to interweave the theme of playing games throughout, to the extent that at times I had to pause and think about what was being suggested as the story came to its end.

The explosive finish really caught my imagination. Vivid descriptions made it difficult not to imagine the Capitol’s eventual downfall as the rebels grow in power and, whilst the film adaptations mean you cannot but see Katniss as Jennifer Lawrence, the heroine she becomes is admirable and disturbing at the same time. I found myself always wishing she would be able to return to the humble young girl she was at the start of the series, but enjoyed reading how she attempted to deal with the pressures that being the Mockingjay gave.

This was a really enjoyable read and a series I would not hesitate to revisit in a few years time. Even after finishing it, I found myself haunted by parts of the story and I think this is what makes a solid read. Collins concludes ‘The Hunger Games’ series in a satisfying way, leaving no room for a further instalment, whilst at the same time giving her fans exactly what they deserve: an ending that you can sit and imagine other parts to the story.

An echo of the first

‘Catching Fire’ – Suzanne Collins

4-star-rating

Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are still alive. Katniss should be relieved, but now there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

As the nation watches Katniss and Peeta, the stakes are higher than ever. One false move and the consequences will be unimaginable.

Following on from ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘Catching Fire’ follows Katniss and Peeta in the aftermath of winning the Games. What I liked was the fact that little time has passed as Collins continues the story just where we left off. With the return of Effie and Haymitch plus new characters introduced, I found this novel very easy to pick up.

Unlike the first novel, Collins seems to focus more on Katniss and her internal battles. As she deliberates the fall out from defying the Capitol, readers witness her emotional turmoil in the desperation to protect the ones she loves. Whilst I enjoyed learning more about Katniss and her character, it did come with its downfall. This slows the pace compared to the first novel which did leave me feeling a little bored at times.

‘Catching Fire’ sees Katniss returns to the arena, battling in a special edition of the Games with Peeta, fighting against previous victors from the other Districts. I found this turn of events disappointing and not too dissimilar from the first novel. I would have preferred seeing more developments from the Capitol but instead was presented with what felt a replay of ‘The Hunger Games’. True, new characters and a different battleground meant that the challenges were unique, I couldn’t help but read with a strong sense of déjà vu. This left me feeling quite frustrated towards the end of the story and ready to see the finishing pages.

Would I recommend this? Well, if you enjoyed the first book then you should certainly read ‘Catching Fire’ to find out what happens next to Katniss. As long as you are prepared for a bit of repetition from the first book, you will probably find this an enjoyable read.

Spot on

‘The Hunger Games’ – Suzanne Collins

5-star-rating

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

In a dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.

When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

I’ve been promising myself to read this ever since I saw the first film. Now, three films down and one to go, I have finally managed to get round to reading the first of this trilogy. Unsurprisingly, the film adaptation played in my head over the course of my reading, but this did not lessen my enjoyment as I rapidly finished this novel.

What I enjoyed most about this novel is the added detail that you just don’t get in the film. Learning more about the characters and their actions during the Hunger Games added depth to the plot and made the action more intense. In addition, the detail Collins goes into for the relationship between Peeta and Katniss was quite surprising for me as I didn’t feel this was portrayed so closely in the film. For me, it was this element that reinforced the novel’s young adult audience.

I really liked the relationship established between Rue and Katniss. It was very touching at times and has a clear impact on how Katniss plays the remainder of the Hunger Games. Collins portrays a different side of Katniss and perhaps it is this that sets up the development in her relationship with Peeta?

Having finally read the first in the series, I did not find ‘The Hunger Games’ disappointing. It delivered on every expected level and I would recommend this to anyone. If you have seen the film, you will not be disappointed by the original plot. If you are lucky enough to not know the story behind this trilogy, the originality and it’s characters will keep you hooked right until the very end.

Bloody brilliant

‘Persuader’ – Lee Child

5-star-rating

Persuader - Lee Child

Persuader – Lee Child

Never forgive, never forget.

Jack Reacher lives for the moment. Without a home. Without commitment. But he has a burning desire to right wrongs – and rewrite his own agonizing past.

Never apologize. Never explain.

When Reacher witnesses a brutal kidnap attempt, he takes the law into his own hands. But a cop dies. Has Reacher lost his sense of right and wrong?

This is the first Jack Reacher novel I have read and regardless of the fact that it is the seventh book in the series by Lee Child, I did not feel like I was missing out on a back story. Straight from the beginning I was hooked into the story and with the opening (but lengthy) chapter finishing with an unexpected ‘I’m in’, I just couldn’t put this down from start to finish.

Truth be told, I have seen the ‘Jack Reacher’ film with Tom Cruise so I guess this did help me to understand his character. And, of course, I could quite easily imagine Tom Cruise playing Jack in this story, albeit the key fact that Child describes Reacher as being over six foot tall… ‘Persuader’ was equally exciting as the film, if not more, and I was glad that the first Jack Reacher book I picked up was not the one that was used for the basis of the film.

Child’s narration took a bit of getting used to. Reacher is very matter-of-fact and straight to the point and this is reflected in the sentence structure. With lots of simple sentences used, I initially found it frustrating that everything was being simplified and events reported so factually. But as I learned more about Reacher’s character, it is clear that Child is doing this deliberately to reflect the calculations Reacher processes in any given situation. In contrast, the chapters are quite lengthy and I think this just encourages you to devour the book even more rapidly.

There are so many exciting moments in this book that I almost enjoyed the lull in action (although they are few and far between). The pace is fast and you are barely given time to process what Reacher has done before he is in the next dangerous situation. At times, I found his calculating way of measuring how he could injure the person he is speaking with very similar to the scenes in the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ films where Holmes describes how he could also take down his opponent. As such, I think this novel could very easily be turned into a film.

This is a great read and I cannot recommend it more. I have never read a novel by Lee Child and I rarely read thrillers. This was an exciting surprise and I am really keen to find another Jack Reacher novel. I just hope that the next one I read will live up to the same high standards because this was such a gem of a novel!

Girl power!

‘Across the Wire’ – Stella Telleria

5-star-rating

Across the Wire - Stella Telleria

Across the Wire – Stella Telleria

When Mia Mitchell, a hardcore but lonely former Marine, steps into an alley to pull some thugs off an unlucky foreigner, she walks into a fight she expects. What she doesn’t see coming is the foreigner making her a job offer any sane person would refuse. So, she takes it. She thinks she’s headed for some third-world country; instead she’s mysteriously transported to an Earth-like parallel world. That’s a mad left-hook.

Mia discovers a matriarchal dystopia where freedom doesn’t exist and fighting for it means execution. Lethal force bends all to the law; women fear for their families and un-wed men suffer slavery. Mia’s job is to train an underground syndicate of male freedom-fighters for a violent revolution. However, the guys don’t want a pair of X chromosomes showing them the way.

Eben, an escaped slave, is encouraged by Mia to become a leader among the men. But when he turns his quiet determination on her, it spells F.U.B.A.R. for cynical Mia. Their unexpected connection threatens more than her exit strategy; it threatens the power struggle festering with in the syndicate.

Haunted by nightmares and post-traumatic stress, unsure who to trust or how to get home, Mia struggles to stay alive as she realises all is not what it seems.

Goodreads

About the author:

Stella Telleria

Stella Telleria

All my life I’ve dreamed of stories or have had my nose buried in one. I live in Edmonton, Canada with my husband and my weird sense of humour. Across the Wire is my first novel.

I love old war movies, dystopian fiction, and any story with action, a good plot, and characters I’d get into a fight at the pub for. Not that I’m a brawler or anything. Unless you think that out-of-print book or vintage piece at the thrift shop is going home with you instead of me. Then, my friend, the gloves are off.

Some say if you have your nose buried in a book, you’re missing out on life. I say my nose is buried in a book because one life is not enough.

Author links:

Facebook / Twitter / Web / Goodreads / Youtube

Review:

Society is turned on its head with this offering from Telleria. Where women are top of the social ladder and men are to serve and satisfy women, Gaia is a far cry from Mia’s home city of San Francisco. This is a brilliant and different read and I really enjoyed all that ‘Across the Wire’ had to offer.

The idea of an alternate universe was a little bit unbelievable and what I found to be one of the weakest links in the story. However, Telleria doesn’t turn this into a massive plot feature and once Mia has accepted her new surroundings, readers are offered a different and unique setting. Gaia appears more technologically advanced with hover cars and using green energy sources, but its methods of crime and punishment are quite archaic, with Mia witnessing an execution with her first visit to the city. I would have liked to learn more about the city and how society really works, so I am hoping this features in the next book of this series.

Mia used to be in the United States Marine Corps and this military background shapes the plot and her time on the Ant Hill as she trains men to resist against female supremacy. There is a lot of focus on the training she delivers and readers are given snapshots into her disturbed past. I liked the way that Telleria gave readers small insights into Mia’s past as we are encouraged to piece together why she finds it so difficult to settle down and make friends with her recruits.

The plot switches between Mia and one of her recently rescued recruits, Eben. I found this narrative shift gave the plot more depth, particularly as each character is interpreting the other’s actions. Indeed, there are a lot of suggestions about character motivations on the Ant Hill and I found myself desperate to learn more about such hidden agendas. Unfortunately for me, Telleria did not reveal this in ‘Across the Wire’ which clearly provides more fuel for the next book!

I really enjoyed reading this novel. It is different from anything I have read recently and this I found refreshing. I liked this unusual plot and the excitement and depth that Telleria provides has left me keen to learn what happens next to Mia and Eben. A great read.

This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway:

The writer, Stella Telleria, is giving away a signed print copy of ‘Across the Wire’ and a swag-bag. This competition is open to the United Kingdom, United States and Canada and closes on 21st April 2014. Click here to enter. Good luck!

Click the links below to get yourself a copy of the novel:

Amazon / Smashwords / Kobo / iTunes

AcrosstheWireTourBanner